Debenhams: Transgender woman awarded £9,000 in discrimination settlement
A transgender woman has been awarded £9,000 after settling a sex discrimination case against Debenhams.
Ava Moore, from Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland, applied for a sales assistant job with the high street retailer in the run up to Christmas 2018.
She attended an interview which she felt went well but was informed a few days later that she had been unsuccessful.
Ms Moore then received an anonymous email saying she was not offered the job because she is a transgender woman.
She told the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland she felt a change in atmosphere when she showed the interviewer her birth certificate, which disclosed her gender history.
She said: “I was so upset. What does my gender have to do with my ability to make sales? I’m just trying to make a better life for myself, I want to work and support myself.
“My confidence was rocked and I was just so deflated – I felt that it didn’t matter how hard I tried, or how well I performed at interview, it just seemed to me that my gender was more important than being able to do the job.”
The case was settled with help from the commission, but Debenhams has not accepted liability.
Dr Michael Wardlow, chief commissioner of the Equality Commission, said: “The issue here is simple – a job should go to the person who does best at interview and in selection tests. That’s what equality of opportunity in practice means.
“The company confirmed that Ava performed well at interview and in interacting with customers – and she says she told them she was willing to work the hours required.
“The more open and inclusive the recruitment process, the more likely it is to avoid unlawful discrimination and increase the likelihood of getting the best and most qualified people for the job.”
Debenhams said it would work with the commission to review its equal opportunities policies and procedures.
The chain entered administration last year and is closing dozens of stores across the UK.
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